Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Debut Delayed

You may have noticed on my sidebar, a link to my daughter's blog, "ROSEBUD." Olivia Rose is 8 years old, and wonderfully creative, caring, and bright child. I know, I know... all parent's say this but truly I feel very lucky and blessed to be her mother. Her passions are for animals of all sorts but she recently began riding lessons with a friend's horse, Athena. Rosebud plans on blogging about her adventures in horseback riding, the outdoors, reading, science, her pet guinea pig, Hamilton, dog, Abby, and other 8 year-old girl stuff. So, soon she will be blogging... but first, the deal is she MUST clean her room. Hopefully, that will be soon.

Olivia Rose and her brother Will in a puddle at Grammy's.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ken Burns-National Parks

Ken Burns Documentary on American National Parks begins this evening on PBS. This is a must see.

Premieres Sunday, September, 27 at 8pm et/7pm ct.

The NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA'S BEST IDEA is a six-episode series directed by Ken Burns and written and co-produced by Dayton Duncan. Filmed over the course of more than six years at some of nature's most spectacular locales – from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska.

The National Parks: America's Best Idea is nonetheless a story of people: people from every conceivable background – rich and poor; famous and unknown; soldiers and scientists; natives and newcomers; idealists, artists and entrepreneurs; people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy.

Full episodes are availbale online at

More interative material on American National Parks is also available online with PBS.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kids 1, Mama 0

A True Story...

THE SCENE: shower time with a Mom and her sweet, innocent, 3 year old little girl.  Mom is washing little girl.  All is well until...

LITTLE GIRL: (Giggling) Mama, your tummy is woggly. (Referring to the, well woggly, stomache of said Mother).

MOM: (Sighing) Yes, well, thats true.  But Mama is eating healthier and walking a lot so hopefully it will be less woggly later.

LITTLE GIRL: (Looking doubiously through the shampoo bubbles) Oh. (Giggles and tries pinching her own tummy skin)

MOM: (Feeling she gave little girl a positive body image kind of response, smiles to herself and then looks down at her tummy) You know, my tummy is this way because you were inside it once.

LITTLE GIRL: (Giggling) Me?  In there?

MOM: (Feeling a bit smug) Yes, we have talked about that. (Pointing to her belly) See?  You streched me all out.  (Returns to washing little girl's hair for a few moments of thoughtful silence)

LITTLE GIRL: (With a very earnest look)  So... then... What happened to your butt, Mama?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Linda Hall Library Lectures

The Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology is situated adjacent to the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  I think it must be my favorite library.  Ever.

There is a couple really interesting things coming up at Linda Hall Libarary.  Check 'em out:

Friday October 16, 2009
8:00am - 4:30pm

The symposium moderator is Neil Degrasse Tyson (or as Jon Stewart calls him-The Man Who Killed Pluto).

For more information on the featured speakers, schedule, registration, etc. CLICK HERE.

7:00pm in the Main Reading Room

The year 2009 marks the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species. The Linda Hall Library will commemorate these Darwin anniversaries with book discussions, film and lecture series, and an exhibition of rare books from our History of Science Collection. All events are free and open to the public.

Special Lecture - "Darwin's Evolution as Naturalist: A Bird's-eye View"

Lyanda Haupt is an author and naturalist in Seattle. Her works include "Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons from Darwin's Lost Notebooks" (Little-Brown, 2006), and her latest book, "Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness", will be out this July.
For more information about Darwin@200 at Linda Hall Library CLICK HERE.
For other Darwin Resources CLICK HERE.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Bad Seed

Celebrating Local Food, Culture, and Community

There has always been city farming in America's history. (See Urban Arcadia: Introduction and Urban Arcadia: Part 1).  Indeed, urban agriculture has served many purposes: food security, culture transmission, education, and even binding society in times of need.

At work in the Bad Seed Farm

Driving my own home town of Kansas City, Missouri, I am struck by the lack of healthy food sources in the city's core.  What few grocery stores are present have been the target of local news investigations for sub standard facilties, food care safety, & general low quality foods.  My observations are shared by others - throughtout the country, academic research and government reports seek to gain a greater understanding of what has been coined a "food desert." According to Dr. Larsen, of the Urban Development Program at the University of West Ontario, a food desert is "a socially distressed neighborhood with relatively low average household incomes and poor access to healthy and affordable food." Food deserts are also often served by a surplus of convenience stores and fast food restaurants.  For an example within the United States, please see this Chicago Mag article on the Chicago food desert. (See also USDA report on food deserts).  I believe this to be both a key environmental justice issue as well as a basic public health concern in city cores which mainly house minorities and lower income resident as well as a compunding factor in health disparities between racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. See the Tulane University School of Public Health Prevention Research Center for a comprehensive list of reports, articles and research.  In response, city farming has presented itself as a sustainable, affordable, and healthy alternative to our urban neighbors.

The Bad Seed Farm, Kansas City, Missouri

As we consider not only the availability of quality foodstuffs but also food security in recent times of economic distress, the city farm movement is growing across the country. In my area, the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture is working to promote small-scale, community-based, entrepreneurial farming in the Kansas City metropolitan area.  The KCCUA sponors 3 programs:  Kansas City Community Farms, Urban Farmer Development, & Juniper Gardens Farm Business Development. Kansas City is today has over 50 small plot urban farms throughout the metropolitian area.

The Bad Seed grows organic produce on an urban farm

One of those KC farms is the The Bad Seed Farm & Market.  Ironically named, the Bad Seed has become the focus of urban farming and zoning laws in Kansas City both locally (Kansas City Star Article) and nationally (Huffington Post).  The debate has spreads across the internet in thoughtful blogs and news websites (Civil Eats and Urban Tilth).  Unlike their inner city cousins, the Bad Seed is situated in a suburban location.  So, here, it is concern over the sights and sounds of a small farm theoretically disrupting the suburban ideal of manicured lawns with the occasional tasteful swingset and bar-b-gue grill.  Though not addressing critical urban issues of vacant lots, polluted soils, and potential income in poverty stricken areas, the Bad Seed controversy highlights the social boundaries of American urban and peri-urban settlement patterns.

Owners of the Bad Seed Farm: Brooke Salvaggio and Daniel Heryer

Despite, or perhaps in reaction to, zoning issues like the Bad Seed, Kansas City government is turning more attention to the issue of urban agriculture.  The Kansas City Climate Protection Plan includes policies to promote urban agriculture as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The Bad Seed Farm may have found a friend in Councilman John Sharp, who’s not enthusiastic about backyard livestock but supports the concept of urban gardening. “Truck gardening is clearly a term that brings up images of hauling vegetables and fruits from a single-home residence,” said Sharp, who thinks zoning laws may need a tweak.“This will take some getting used to by folks who aren’t used to seeing this in urban areas.”

Photos and quote (Kansas City Star, 09/01/09)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The White Rose

           Over Labor Day Weekend, our family set out on our annual camping and canoe trip in southern Missouri. Any road trip that has three children as particpants can be sure to included numerous (and inevitably inconvenient) pit stops. Ramping off the highway in Carthage, Missouri for one of these "breaks", our expedition leader (aka Dad - we like to humor him) spied a sign for a local winery.  Eager for an enroute distraction, we headed down the small town road and found The White Rose: Winery, Restaurant, Bed & Breakfast.
            We had a wonderful time touring the property and tasting wine.  Our host was the charming and knowledgeable Jan O'Haro. In Jan I found a kindered spirit in the love of history. She told us about the beautiful limestone Victorian house built in 1900.  Positioned along the Spring River in Carthage, the house had been the jewel of a 2000 acre Hereford ranch built by the owner of the local quarry. Later, the ranch was parcelled out and transitioned into a 1000 acre dairy farm with cow stalls built of the same beautiful stone as the main house.  Today the home, sitting on 10 treed acres, is the the O'haro bed & breakfast with a Victorian palor room for wine tasting.

         We tried several of the O'haro wines while our children played with corks (which are apparently as fun as leggos) and chit-chat with other patrons. From the wine list we tasted:  Norton, Chardonel, Cayuga White, Spring River White, and Lady in Gold.  The Cayuga White was a beautiful, smooth honeyed wine that very much reminded me of mead.  The wines of the White Rose winery are produced in a traditional European fashion without added sulfites (the nasty stuff that causes hangovers in lessers wines).  The wines are the namesake of a lovely garden statue of a woman with roses in her hair, looking over a little coy pond.  Having enjoyed our time at The White Rose and with two new bottles of wine to add to our collection, we said goodbye to the Lady of the Roses and headed back down the road.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Dear Hubble

Though I have lead a decidedly terrestrial life, I like many other children lay on the lawn on hot, summer nights staring at the Moon and stars.  I even "borrowed" my brother's telescope to better sketch the surface of the moon and track the movement of my favorite constellations.  So, today, as an adult, it is no surprise that I have taken an interest in the magnificent and truly magical photos that have come from the newly refurbished Hubble Space Telescope.  Long in the tooth, the Hubble has recieved its last repairs.  I imagine my dear Hubble, self aware, churning out the images, capturing the research data, and transmitting all to us on Earth as if it knew its life was limited.

*Click on the photographs to enlarge them.*

These photos were released by NASA today, 09-09-09.  For more breathtaking images, visit the NASA website.  For a more complete story on these new images and the refurbished Hubble, visit this NPR website.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Book Worm

I'd like to bring your attention to a new widet addition on my blog: LibraryThing.  I love this website.  I have added several of my favorite history and science texts to "My LibraryThing" and plan to add more.  I will link My LibraryThing to the books I highlight in my series "In the Book-Light."  You are invited to look over the library posted to the right and begin or join in any discussions about anything you find of interest.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Paul Simon

"Why am I so soft in the middle when the rest of my life is so hard?"